Tampa Bay area sports radio stations switch affiliations from ESPN to NBC

Published October 2 2012

Tampa Bay's sports talk radio scene got another shakeup Monday as 1040-AM (WHBO) and 1080-AM (WHOO) in Orlando became NBC Sports Radio affiliates, following a decision by owners Genesis Communications to drop its ESPN Radio for the newer sports talk network.

Genesis, a Largo company that owns six radio stations in the Tampa and Orlando area, has renamed the two affiliates NBC Sports Talk 1040 The Team Tampa Bay and NBC Sports Talk 1080 The Team Orlando, featuring all the content on one website, SportsTalkFlorida.com.

The company also brought former ESPN personality Dan Patrick's show to 1040-AM and 1080-AM from 9 a.m. to noon, preceded by a show with former Bright House Sports Networks anchor David Baumann from 6 to 9 a.m. After Patrick's program, 1040-AM will air shows by Whitney Johnson (noon to 3 p.m.), Charlie Bernstein (3 to 7 p.m.) and NBC Sports Radio personality Erik Kuselias (7 to 10 p.m.).

"We thought there was a demand for more exclusive content," said Len Weiner, vice president of programming at Genesis; the company announced months ago it would drop ESPN in October, saying too much of its content was available on other, competing platforms. "This is going to be great for the listeners."

Weiner couldn't speak to rumors that rising costs also prompted Genesis to drop its ESPN affiliation, referring questions to owner Bruce Maduri, who didn't return phone calls.

But the changes at Genesis cap a turbulent year for local sports talk, which saw CBS Radio create an FM station at 98.7 (Sportsradio 98.7 The Fan) in August and simulcast its signal on 1010-AM (WQYK).

In January, CBS will debut a new CBS Sports Radio network on several stations including 1010-AM; last week ex-ESPN star Jim Rome announced his show would move to CBS Radio.

Officials at the network's New York headquarters could not say if Rome's show would also leave Clear Channel's Tampa station 620-AM (WDAE), where it has aired for more than a decade.

WDAE is dropping its old tagline, "The Sports Animal," to rebrand itself as "Tampa Bay Sports Radio."

And Clear Channel has picked up parts of the ESPN affiliation Genesis dropped, airing some major-league baseball and college football games on late night and weekends; Clear Channel's 1250-AM (WHNZ) also will air programming from Fox Sports Network overnights.